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India vs West Indies: Poor timing robs Caribbean series of sunshine

Scheduling issues push Indian cricket team’s tour to the West Indies into the hurricane season, hurting interest in the contests

india vs west indies 2017 Updated: Jun 24, 2017 23:56 IST
Khurram Habib
The first ODI between India and West Indies at Port of Spain was washed out due to rain on Friday.
The first ODI between India and West Indies at Port of Spain was washed out due to rain on Friday.(AFP)

West Indies haven’t been struggling merely with the quality of teams they are putting out on the field. They have been struggling with the scheduling of home series as well, especially with India, during their traditional home season. For any cricket team, the home season is important to keep the crowd interest alive.

For the West Indies, it has traditionally been the period between February and May. And understandably, this series is failing to take off. It falls outside the peak cricket period, and is affected by rain as it has run into the Caribbean hurricane season. It has thus rendered the contest meaningless, having little context.

Empty stands at the Queen’s Park Oval on Friday in the first ODI between India and West Indies raised a big question mark over the viability of bilateral series, especially in the Caribbean, in these days of big T20 leagues as well as other multi-team tournaments, more so during the rainy season when it is being played as a mere formality.

READ | India practice indoors as rain looms large ahead of second ODI vs. West Indies

Washed out Test

Last year too, when India played West Indies in a Test at the Queen’s Park Oval, it was in mid-August and rain played spoilsport, allowing just 22 overs of play. Lack of drainage facilities at the ground all but washed out the Test as India finished with a 2-0 victory in the four-match series.

Cricket during peak season in the Caribbean, in the early part of the year, is well attended. Pakistan played a long series in March, April and May and attracted lot of crowd. Last year, Australia and South Africa came to the Caribbean for a Tri-series in May and June, and out of the 10 matches, only one was washed out. There was no cricket before that here because of the World T20 in India, which West Indies won.

Growing amount of cricket, especially due to the T20 leagues, has left ICC with the tough task of saving bilateral series and giving it context. Its push for an ODI and Test league may give it some significance.

READ | India vs West Indies: Absence of big crowd mars contest in Port of Spain

Home season vital

England, Australia, South Africa and even New Zealand have been protecting their home seasons while BCCI too has insisted on it.

But a long home season every few years (2012-13 and 2016-17), crammed with three teams visiting, and obliging other top nations as well as having top players in a two-month IPL (in May-June) hasn’t allowed India to visit the Caribbean in the traditional season for a while. The last time they did that was back in 2002.

In 2006, India played a five-ODI and four-Test series, which, however, began in May and ran till July. That series had to be scheduled in that manner as India toured Pakistan early that year. However, even a May start is now ruled out due to IPL.